Urology / Nephrology

Kidney stones: Everything you need to know

The kidney stones arise from a accumulation of dissolved minerals on the kidney’s inner lining.

These typically consist of calcium oxalate but may consist of a variety of other compounds.

Kidney stones can grow to the size of a golf ball while maintaining a smooth, crystalline structure.

The stones can be tiny and move through the urinary tract unnoticed, but they may also cause intense pain when leaving the body.

Symptoms

Kidney stones

A stone in the kidney is typically symptomless until it passes into the ureter. When kidney stone symptoms are visible they usually include:

  • severe pain in the groin and/or side
  • blood in urine
  • vomiting and nausea
  • white blood cells or pus in the urine
  • reduced amount of urine excreted
  • burning sensation during urination
  • persistent urge to urinate
  • fever and chills if there is an infection

Complications

Kidney stones that linger within the body may also cause various problems, including blockage of the tube that links the kidney to the bladder, which obstructs the route that urine uses to exit the body.

Research has shown that people with kidney stones have a significantly higher chance of developing chronic kidney disease.

Causes

A shortage of water in the body is the principal cause of kidney stones.

Stones are observed more commonly in people who drink less than the average 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

The urine is more acidic when there is not enough water to dilute the uric acid, a part of urine.

The development of kidney stones can result from an extremely acidic condition in urine.

The risk of kidney stones is increased by medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, medullary sponge kidney disease, and Dent disease.

Risk factors

Kidney stones are more common in men than women. Most people who develop kidney stones do so between age 30 and age 50. A family history of kidney stones also raises one’s developmental chances.

Similarly, if preventive action is not taken, a prior occurrence of the kidney stone increases the probability that a person may develop subsequent stones in the future.

Some drugs may increase the risk that kidney stones may develop. Scientists have found that topiramate (Topamax), a drug commonly prescribed for treating seizures and migraine headaches, may increase the chance of developing kidney stones.

In addition, long-term use of vitamin D and calcium supplements can cause high levels of calcium which may lead to kidney stones.

Specific risk factors for kidney stones include diets rich in protein and sodium but low in calcium, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high blood pressure, and disorders influencing the absorption of calcium in the body, such as gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel disease and recurrent diarrhea.

Treatment

Kidney stones treatment

Treating kidney stones focuses mainly on treating the effects. It can be very difficult to move a stone.

If a person has a history of kidney stones, it may be appropriate to get home treatment. Individuals who never went through a kidney stone can speak to a doctor.

If hospital care is required, a person may be rehydrated via an intravenous (IV) tube, and anti-inflammatory medication may also be given.

Narcotics are also used to make the discomfort of walking over the stone tolerable. Antiemetic medicine can be used in people who have nausea and vomiting.

A urologist can in some cases conduct a shock wave therapy called lithotripsy. This is a procedure that splits into smaller parts of the kidney stone and helps it to move.

People with large stones found in regions where lithotripsy is not allowed may undergo surgical procedures, such as extracting the stone through an incision in the back or inserting a thin tube into the urethra.

Home remedies

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the effects of kidney stones and help doctors provide care.

The first is to drink enough water to clear the urine entirely. A individual can tell if their urine is yellow or brown, that they do not drink enough water.

A doctor can also recommend that a kidney stone, when urinating, be passed naturally. They will then ask you to extract a kidney stone from the urine by filtering it through a gauze or a glove.

They will be able to decide what further treatment is needed when examining the retrieved stone.

Diet

Several foods have positive effects on kidney function. These can help to reduce both the kidney stones risk and effects. The body passes the stone, naturally, within 48 to 72 hours.

One such alternative is the kidney beans. Boil the pods inside the beans for about six hours, strain the liquid and allow cooling of this liquid.

Individuals with kidney stones will drink this liquid every 2 hours for 1 to 2 days.

Additional foods which can protect the kidneys include:

  • basil
  • celery
  • apples
  • grapes
  • pomegranates

Vitamin B6 supplements and pyroxidine supplements have also been recommended as effective treatments.

Prevention

Preventing kidney stones can be as easy for people in good health as keeping them hydrated.

Doctors may also recommend medications for individuals who are at higher risk to prevent other forms of stones.

Diagnosis

The presence of a kidney stone can be confirmed by several specific checks. A physical exam will show colicky pain in the groin and around the kidneys in the lower. Those are also state alert signals.

The urine examination will determine whether blood is in the urine or not, and whether there is a subsequent infection. Blood tests may be performed to detect symptoms that can follow a kidney stone, and to verify the diagnosis ‘validity.

CT scan of the abdomen is one way to test for kidney stones. A CT scan will ascertain the state of the ureter, bladder, and kidneys, whether or not a stone exists, the kidney stone’s exact size and location, whether or not a blockage has occurred, and the state of other organs in the area, such as the appendix, aorta, and pancreas.

Ultrasounds have also been shown to have high detection rates and can diagnose many complications associated with kidney stones.

Pregnant women should receive an ultrasound rather than a CT scan to avoid unnecessary radiation.

Once a person has been diagnosed with a kidney stone, basic X-rays are used to monitor the stone’s progress through the excretory system.

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